Remember those old ads in comic books, like Charles Atlas muscle builders, Frankenstein masks, and of course, the infamous Sea Monkeys? Well, they’re back as the dastardly Carnevil of Crime in Cap’n Dinosaur, a one-shot making fun of all things Silver Age, including the characters, cheesy dialogue, the trope of characters getting extra superpowers to deal with threats and much more. Kek-W, a veteran of the famous 2000 AD anthology, parodies the ads, plots, and characters of comics from 50-60 years ago while also telling an superhero/mystery/horror story with art from Shaky Kane that would make Jack Kirby smile. There are a few panels where the storytelling is unclear, but Cap’n Dinosaur is mostly a hilarious, occasionally trippy parody and love letter to a time when comics cost twelve or fifteen cents and printed on newsprint.
Kek-W and Shaky Kane get to show off their knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of Silver Age comics in Cap’n Dinosaur. One of the strengths of Silver Age comics (especially ones drawn by Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and Jim Steranko) were its art. Shaky Kane successfully imitates the art style of Jack Kirby (and more recently Mike Allred) while juxtaposing it with the violence of modern comics. This is similar to the one-shots in the recent Deadpool comics where Deadpool goes to different eras of the Marvel Universe, but Cap’n Dinosaur, his sidekick Honey Moon, and the Carnevil of Crime are original creations. Kek-W plays with different elements of the comics and mail order ads of this times to make these characters interesting. For example, Cap’n Dinosaur (and his inner monologue) owes a lot to the Adam West incarnation Batman and Spider-Man (“Dino-sense”), but some of his characterization goes back to the Nazi/Jap/Commie punching Captain America of the 1940s and 1950s. He also carries a gun like Doc Savage or The Shadow and has weird superpower moments, like the Mort Weisinger edited Superman of the Silver Age. Kek-W and Shaky Kane deftly piece together these bits of comics nostalgia to tell a done in one superhero story chock-full of punching, bad puns, and even some psychedelia. Shaky Kane colors his work in the old school four color style and uses this to great effect when Cap’n Dinosaur fights a “dead” supervillain with hypnotic powers.
The one minor problem I had with Cap’n Dinosaur was the shifting sense of scale when Cap’n Dinosaur fought varying sizes of Frankensteins. But Shaky Kane’s art did a nice job balancing the silly and grotesque with a dose of dark humor. He and Kek-W build their own fictional universe from the dregs of pop culture, and this comic really made me want to find out more about Cap’n Dinosaur and his sexy/creepy relationship with his sidekick Honey Moon as well as learning more about his wacky rogues gallery. Part pop culture parody, part classic superhero adventure, Cap’n Dinosaur is the perfect comic for fans of anything retro or kitsch.